COVID-19: Tuesday's 94 cases could mark tipping point outbreak can't be contained

New Zealand has gone from Super Saturday to Terrible Tuesday.

On Tuesday we had 94 new cases - our highest daily number since the pandemic arrived 20 months ago.

And today could be remembered as the day we realised COVID had got away from us.

After 63 days of trying to outrun COVID, on Tuesday it might have finally caught up with us.

"I feel terrible about that. Disappointed, kind of expecting it. Going from bad to worse," one person told Newshub.

"I'm feeling like it's shocking and we shouldn't be out here now," another said.

And if it wasn't obvious before, we no longer have control of the outbreak.

"Unlinked cases and the high proportion of unlinked cases is telling us the outbreak is getting ahead of our contact tracers," COVID-19 modeller Shaun Hendy says.

The North Shore today was singled out as a current hotspot. Meanwhile COVID's even spread to Waiheke - the first case ever for the island.

"The rumours were around everywhere, literally everywhere, people speculating about who and what street they lived and what area," Waiheke Island local board chair Cath Handley says.

But there is one clear trend - young people are now at the centre of this outbreak with 64 of today's cases under 40.

"If you are young you are sadly not invincible. Twelve of our current hospitalisations are under 39 years of age," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

"We are right on the threshold now where we were could go from an outbreak that will eventually be brought under control with our vaccination programme or an outbreak that is going to be really tough to contain," Hendy warns.

More than 158,000 eligible Aucklanders still haven't had their first dose of the vaccine and there is a growing sense the super city is being held hostage by the holdouts.

"It's a war, we need to get through this freedom thing - well let's get vaccinated and get some freedom back. I just don't understand," says Yael Shochat, who owns Auckland's Ima Cuisine.

Because those doing the right thing are simply fed up.

"I'm exhausted. I'm really tired. It's hard," Shochat says.

A sentiment shared by most Aucklanders, because after nine weeks of lockdown and our highest daily cases ever it doesn't really feel like we're any closer to getting off the wheel.